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Wednesday, January 14, 2015
DOD Wants To Upgrade Air Force One, 'Doomsday' Aircraft Communications Suites
James Drew on the InsideDefense.com website reported on January 9 that Pentagon comptroller Mike McCord has submitted a reprogramming request to Congress to modify and upgrade the communications equipment aboard Air Force One as well as the nuclear-hardened "Doomsday" aircraft.
Of the $79 million in requested funds transfers, an equal amount will come from several important programs, such as the B-52 digital communications upgrade, where the Air Force believes it has found funding that is "excess to need."
According to a reprogramming request signed Nov. 13, 2014, and published recently, the two VC-25A Air Force One aircraft would receive wireless Internet access through a $2 million modification and a further $37 million would install high-bandwidth commercial satellite communications (SATCOM) equipment.
The E-4B National Airborne Operations Center (NAOC) that is better known as the "Doomsday" aircraft for its specialized nuclear command-and-control mission would receive a super-high-frequency Ka and X-band capability -- at a cost of $40 million.
"This upgrade will ensure the continued connectivity and interoperability needed to keep pace with changes in the satellite and communications infrastructure," the document states.
The two VC-25As are assigned to Air Mobility Command's 89th Airlift Wing and are stationed at Andrews Air Force Base, MD.
Four E-4Bs are assigned to U.S. Strategic Command and are operated by Air Combat Command's 55th Wing from Offut Air Force Base, NB.
Both fleets support strategic national-level missions and are due for replacement over the next decade. The Air Force expects to issue a request for proposals for a new presidential aircraft some time this year.